The Hopeless American Dream? In “The Death of a Salesman” by Arthur Miller, the overall theme is about striving for and failing at the “American Dream”. The finale quote from Linda Loman at the end of the play disseminates the consequences of death and failure due to the pressure surrounding the “American Dream”. Forgive me, dear. I can’t cry. I don’t know what it is, I can’t cry. I don’t understand it. Why did you ever do that? Help me Willy, I cant cry. It seems to me that you’re just on another trip. I keep expecting you. Willy, dear, I can’t cry. Why did you do it? I search and search and I search, and I can’t understand it, Willy.
I made the last payment on the house today. Today, dear. And there’ll be nobody home. (A sob rises in her throat. ) We’re free and clear. (Sobbing more fully, released. ) We’re free. (Biff comes slowly toward her. ) We’re free… We’re free.. The play starts of describing a house surrounded by apartment buildings. This is a foreshadow for the entire book that their “American Dream” cannot come true. How can it if they cannot even have a house that would put up the facade. It’s not a house in the suburbs, there are no irds chirping, and no dog running around in the front yard.
Willy Loman is a self made man, a traveling salesman but what does he have to show for it? No pension, no hope of retirement in the near future. He is lost in his own delusion and has dragged his family into it with him. Linda is forever loyal, and his son’s cannot live up to the expectations he has Willy forces is idea of the “American Dream” upon everyone in the family, Linda, Biff, and Happy. He believes that if one works hard and is motivated then they will achieve their goals. He needs to be well liked by everyone and thinks this will lead to financial uccess, and essential part in the “American Dream”.
Although this is one of the attributes of being successful relying on being well liked alone is not enough. Even though Biff is well liked he continual fails throughout his life, he goes to Jail, steals from people, and fails math in college. Willy will not submit to the idea that you can find happiness without the “American Dream” and this creates a riff between Biff and himself. He needs to continue his legacy and keep the hopes and aspirations behind the “American Dream” alive. This is why towards the end of the play he goes and buys seeds to plant “Oh I’d better hurry. IVe got to get some seeds. He starts off to the right. ) IVe got to get some seeds, right away. Nothings planted. I don’t have a thing in the ground. ” His children couldn’t succeed, but he requires some reasoning for why he has been working hard all his life. Linda is behind Willy every step off the way. She sacrifices her self for his ideals. Even when arguments ensue between Willy, Biff, and Happy Linda backs up Willy as she always will. She also believes that financial success is the backbone the “American Dream”, however she is much more level headed then Willy and realizes one needs to e more then well liked to achieve their goals.
Linda is the glue that holds the family about Will’s mistress for instance, or about his financial losses. The play ends with Linda standing by Willys grave and not being able to understand why Willy did it after all “We’re free… We’re free.. ” she is referring to the fact that she Just made the final payment on their home. She believes that, as does Willy, that being free of debt is an essential part of the “American Dream”. In the end neither of them are able to come to terms with their own failures and instead focus on the facade they have created for themselves.
This has a severe effect on both Biff and Happy, which is evident throughout the play. Willys golden child is Biff, the first born. He puts all of his hoped and aspirations into Biff. Throughout high school he become a football star and is well liked by everyone, which is what he and his father think will lead to his success. Unfortunately it takes Biff a very long time to realize that his father’s dream is not his own. He goes through his life thinking otherwise and it puts him in questionable situations. Stealing Oliver’s fountain pen, stealing a suit in Kansas city and ending up in Jail, and not being able o graduate college.
It takes him 34 years to realize how screwed up his father made him. Biff is the only character that has a hope of reaching his own “American Dream” in the end. He realizes his faults and tries to accept and change them “Will you take that phony dream and burn it before something happens”. He says this to Willy very shortly before Willy walks out the door. It is a very important quote because it shows real change in Biff, it shows an understanding what is going on, something which no one else in the family seems to get. Willy leaves to commit suicide in order for the family to get insurance money.
In the end Willy Justified his own sick fantasy and accomplished his own “American Dream” at least he died thinking so. Happy’s own name is an example of irony. He is the second born and is always in Biffs shadow. He attempts to please his father and follows his examples. This does not lead to the success he hopes and he instead tries to satisfy his hungry by indulging in women. He is unable to find happiness, hence the irony of his name, despite doing all things he thinks his father wants him to do. Willy, Linda, and Happy never comprehend that their “American Dream” is a hopeless advent.
Biff is the only one left, the only hope left in the family. Willy succumbs to suicide believing it will accomplish his goals, Linda has payed of their debt on the house but is simply following Willy unwittingly, and Happy is left unhappy. The “American Dream” is clearly a failure, however, Miller gives us hope with Biff. Is the “American Dream” possible? Miller leaves us to decide on our own whether or not they succeeded, for in Willys own sick way he accomplished his own “American Dream” yet we, the readers can determine that it is a clear failure by anyone else’s standards.